President Rodrigo Duterte claimed that the Makabayan bloc party-lists (Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Anakpawis, Bayan Muna, Gabriela, and Kabataan) are “legal fronts” of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
During the March 29 airing of “Talk to the Nation” on PTV, Duterte claimed that five party-list groups have ties with the CPP. These groups being Kabataan Partylist, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, and Gabriela (KABAG). This statement was made in support of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokesperson Lorraine Badoy’s claim that the mentioned party-list groups are in an alliance with the CPP against the government.
However, Duterte’s claim against the Makabayan Bloc as a communist legal front is FALSE.
The party-lists under this political coalition are recognized by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). Section 6.2 of the Republic Act No. 7941 or the Party-list System Act states that when a party-list “advocates violence or unlawful means to seek its goal,” its registration will be removed or cancelled. Makabayan party-lists have been part of the government since 2001. The party-lists are still included in the final listing of party-list candidates for the 2022 Elections released by the COMELEC.
Moreover, this isn’t the first time these party-lists have been falsely accused of being communist legal fronts. The Makabayan bloc has been red-tagged by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) back in 2019, and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in 2021. The political coalition consistently denies the accusations against Makabayan having connections with the CPP, saying that “activism is not a crime.”
On March 30, 2022, in response to the March 29 airing of “Talk to the Nation,” Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said in a statement that the red-tagging of the Makabayan Bloc’s party-lists is an attempt of the Duterte administration to impede the growth of the political opposition, especially as it is the election season. Zarate emphasized that the allegations are baseless and condemned Duterte’s actions as this may lead to even more harassment towards the members of the progressive bloc.
WHY IT MATTERS
The PTV YouTube channel where the March 29 “Talk to the People” was uploaded has 1.53 million subscribers. The specific video aired already has 11,299 views as of April 2. In addition, the claim may endanger the members of the Makabayan bloc because of Republic Act No. 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. The Anti-Terrorism Council has named the CPP a terrorist group in Resolution No. 288 on January 26, 2022.
On January 31, 2022, Rappler already debunked similar claims by Badoy, saying that members of Makabayan are “urban operatives” of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP).
De Vera, Sherwin. “FALSE: Makabayan lawmakers are communist guerillas’ urban operatives.” Rappler, January 31, 2022. https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/fact-check/makabayan-lawmakers-communist-guerillas-urban-operatives/.
Ferreras, Vince. “Gabriela, NGOs slam red-tagging by AFP, Defense Dept.” CNN Philippines, November 6, 2019. https://www.cnnphilippines.com/news/2019/11/6/Gabriela-NGO-slam-red-tagging-by-AFP-DND-.html.
“Final Listing of Party-List Candidates.” Commission on Elections, December 29, 2021. https://comelec.gov.ph/?r=2022NLE%2FListsofCandidates%2FFinalListingPartyList.
Gita-Carlos, Ruth Abbey. “PRRD back Badoy’s claims vs. 5 party-lists allied with CPP.” Philippine News Agency, March 29, 2022. https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1170957?fbclid=IwAR3sPSPb5AMs_YklHplpbIJP4I82ZWVgOmA_FMFzD5UpyMOE3VtAXc3fl2Y.
Gonzales, Cathrine. “Elago denies Kabataan Party-list group recruiting for NPA.” Inquirer.net, November 24, 2020. https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1364213/elago-denies-kabataan-party-list-group-recruiting-for-npa.
Guda, Kenneth Roland. “Progressive party-list groups in the Philippines fight for survival in 2022 polls.” Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, July 13, 2021. https://pcij.org/article/6706/progressive-party-list-groups-2022-elections.
Lalu, Gabriel Pabico. “Makabayan insists: We’re not CPP-NPA members, we don’t recruit fighters.” Inquirer.net, November 27, 2020. https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1365422/makabayan-insists-were-not-cpp-npa-members-we-dont-recruit-fighters.
Perez, Arra. “Grupo ng mga guro idinaing ang umano’y pag-red-tag sa kanilang hanay.” ABS-CBN News, February 22, 2021. https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/02/22/21/grupo-ng-mga-guro-idinaing-ang-umanoy-pag-red-tag-sa-kanilang-hanay.
Pulta, Benjamin. “16 organizations linked to Reds designated as ‘terror groups.’” Philippine News Agency, February 23, 2022. https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1168356.
“REPUBLIC ACT No. 7941.” LawPhil Project. https://lawphil.net/statutes/repacts/ra1995/ra_7941_1995.html.
“REPUBLIC ACT NO. 11479, July 03, 2020.” LawPhil Project. https://lawphil.net/statutes/repacts/ra2020/ra_11479_2020.html.
Sarao, Zacarian. “Bayan Muna: Duterte’s red-tagging a ‘desperate election squid tactic.” Inquirer.net, March 30, 2022. https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1575858/bayan-muna-dutertes-red-tagging-a-desperate-election-squid-tactic.
Villaruel, Jhaun Etienne. “‘Activism not a crime’: Kabataan rebukes NTF-ELCAC, OSG disqualification case.” ABS-CBN News, September 21, 2021. https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/09/21/21/kabataan-rebukes-ntf-elcac-osg-disqualification-case.
“WATCH: President Rodrigo Duterte’s Talk to the Nation | March 29, 2022.” PTV, March 29, 2022. Video, 1:22:00. https://youtu.be/dk6gNVjYd3c.